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Technique of painting using pigments mixed with hot wax. Its name derives from a Greek word meaning ‘burnt in’ and it was one of the principal painting techniques of the ancient world. Pliny describes two methods that were already ‘ancient’ in his day (one of them on ivory), and a third newer method that had been devised since it became the practice to paint ships, and he records that it stood up to sun, salt, and winds. Encaustic painting was the commonest technique in the early centuries of the Christian era but fell into disuse in the 8th or 9th century. Since then various attempts have been made to revive it (e.g. by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, who painted several scenes in encaustic in the Residenz at Munich in the 1830s). Jasper Johns has used encaustic in his Flag and Target paintings, but the time-consuming technique finds few exponents today, even though electrical heating equipment makes it more manageable.

Subjects: Art.

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